The country of natural spectacular wonders

Mount WashingtonCredit: Javrsmith

Canada is a huge country whose citizens enjoy a standard of recognition not normally seen for a population of only about 35 million. There are prominent Canadians who are noted authorities in most every important field of study in the world. Because Canadians travel extensively and easily adapt to different cultural environments, they are generally well regarded by citizens of other nations. The country is officially bilingual, (English and French), with many other languages in active use.

Canada is known for its vast expanse of land filled with resources, natural beauty and wildlife. Canadians take pride in the existance of these features and are happy to share them with others. Many people who encounter Canadians abroad come to know much about the country in conversation which often instills a desire for foreigners to visit Canada someday. Many others have heard wonderful stories from friends and family who have visited Canada.

While an often defining feature of Canada is very cold weather, the vastness and emptiness of the country is incredibly noticeable. It is possible to drive 100 miles, (160Km), or fly over thousands more in many areas of the country and not see signs of human habitation. Because of the expanse of country, there is a lack of access to many areas by roads. In the past, travel by canoe was necessary to move around. These days, many areas of the east and west coasts are only accessible by boat and the north only accessible by small airplanes.

A brief visit to Canada can be inspiring but cannot hope to educate the traveler about the whole country. Covering 6 time zones and every climatic zone known to man, (except tropical rainforest), the country contains extreme diversity of people, wildlife and natural features. A visit to Vancouver, British Columbia will hardly prepare the traveler for a subsequent visit to Toronto, Ontario. In fact, each of the 10 provinces and 3 territories contain exceptional differences from their neighbors and few similarities. To get fantastic experiences in Canada, you could take as many trips as possible to visit these Canadian highlights:

Vancouver Island, British Columbia Highlights

  • Butchart Gardens - a spectacular horticultural exhibit located near Victoria, BC. A revived cement quarry has been transformed into a showcase that has the power to shock visitors with beauty regardless of the time of year or the weather.
  • Empress Hotel, Victoria - majestic elegance at a historical building that hints at the luxury that was expected almost 100 years ago. Try to see it from the MV Coho ferry, arriving on the late night sailing. Have your camera ready.
  • Forest Discovery Centre, Duncan - a museum of the history, tools and vehicles used in the logging industry from the 1800's to the present. An operating steam locomotive takes patrons on a loop around the grounds which includes a timber framed trestle.
  • Kinsol Valley Trestle, Cobble Hill, BC - a spectacular timber framed crossing of a beautiful river. It is one of the largest and highest wooden trestles in the world. Now open after a lengthy restoration, it is a wonder to see.
  • Cowichan Valley Farm and Wine Tour, Duncan - an up and coming area with quite a number of wineries. A lot of good whites and some good reds. Lots of local produce, including organics.
  • Cathedral Grove, Highway 4 to Tofino - Staggering old growth, giant trees. 30 foot circumference Cedar trees. 800+ year old Douglas Fir trees that stand hundreds of feet high. Best collection of giant trees right next to an access road. (Note: a huge pair of twin 800 year Cedars can be found in Goldstream Park, near Victoria.)
  • Long Beach, Tofino - luxurious sandy beaches. Awesome storm watching and surfing in bad weather. Occassionally you may find a glass Japanese fish float that has traveled 6000+ miles to get here.This area is also famous for salmon fishing from chartered boats. Many large trophy fish have been caught using top quality fishing gear from RST Fishing.
  • West Coast Trail, Port Renfrew - Serious hiking adventure along a historical trail that saved those sailers whose vessels crashed on the rocky shore. Now a national park with a reservation system.
  • Whale Watching, Tofino - Depending on the time of year, you will see Gray, Blue or Orca whales. Lots of porpoises as well. Great experience and fantastic scenery even if you don't see whales. (Note: Whale watching available in Victoria as well.)
  • Mount Washington, Comox Valley - The best ski destination on Vancouver Island. Lots of runs, places to stay and things to do. In 2009-10, Mount Washington had more snow than any other ski mountain in the world. Some serious training is done by skiers and boarders.
  • Salmon, steelhead and trout fishing at Campbell River - A great angling opportunity that is just 100 miles north of the ferry terminal at Nanaimo. Consider using RST Fishing's top quality casting, mooching or fly fishing equipment for a fishing experience that can't be beat.

Woven throughout the country is the passion of the people. They share a love for Canada but bring their diverse heritages as well. Many Canadian cities come alive in celebration for distant national holidays and, of course, July 1st, Canada day. Celebrations are not just reserved for nations but for significant festivals such as the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics and the hockey Stanley Cup final. In fact, some of the most exciting national celebrations have occurred when a Canadian team won the hockey championship. This has not happened, however for many years, a national dissappointment since hockey is regarded as Canada's game. Luckily Canadians are well aware that the greatest hockey players were, more often than not, Canadians and that Canada has been very successful in the Olympics, having won the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver games.

Just as a short visit to Canada can't identify all aspects of the country, neither can any one article. Despite all that is good in the country, there are modern problems such as poverty, drug use and crime such as one would find in most areas of the world. Still, Canadians strive to emphasize the positives and repair the negatives where ever possible. The systems of government, law enforcement and general infrastructure are as competant as any in the world. The population is protected, safe and generally happy. The environment is diverse, maintained and protected by huge park reserves in all areas. The economy is also diverse and represents the combined strength of the whole population. The future may bring troubles to Canada, but the richness of natural beauty, resources and a resiliant population gives the country an advantage that will hopefully benefit Canadians in the years to come.